You’ve probably heard the phrase “street food” bandied about; it’s one of the latest buzzwords on the food scene. No, it’s not food that is picked up off the streets (phew!). The term refers to the style of food that is made and sold by open-air vendors from a cart or a truck. Street food is typically simple, freshly prepared, inexpensive and ideal for eating while walking around. Certain countries are particularly known for their delicious street food, and Mexico may lead the pack. Thankfully, the trend has hit one of our little towns on the lake, and we couldn’t be more excited. Meet Lago Tacos and start drooling.
Owner Roger Burks opened Lago Tacos in the old Yumi location and an adjacent space, at the end of February. “I live down the street and noticed there are two things that Excelsior needed,” Burks says. “Mexican food and a grocery store.” A veteran of the corporate restaurant world, Burks wanted to open a Mexican restaurant that defied the stereotypical chimichanga-and-nachos eatery.
Burks knows authentic Mexican food. Born in San Diego; his father would drive him over the border to Tijuana just for a haircut. He is a frequent visitor to Cancun, where he indulges in street tacos. “You walk up to a little cart, they’ll use doubled-up corn tortillas, add whatever meats they’re using that day and then just hand it to you,” Burks says. “It’s super-fresh, immediate and eaten on the fly.” One of Burks’ favorite combinations is the simple tacos al pastor: grilled pork with a squeeze of lime and a sprig of cilantro.
The owner chose the items on Lago Tacos’ menu himself. “This is my baby,” he explains. “I designed it, I worked closely with my builders and I have a lot of pride in it.” He describes the ambiance as Tommy Bahamas-meets-taco joint. There are no sombreros, no bright colors. It’s warm and cozy with reclaimed wood floors. “If you walked in blind, you’d think it might be a bistro or a steak house. We just happen to specialize in tacos.”
There are 11 different tacos on Lago’s menu—some traditional, other creations from more unusual ingredients like lobster or ahi tuna. You can also order big burritos, interesting salads and cool appetizers like deep-fried avocado. Don’t forget dessert, most notably the delirium-inducing white chocolate banana quesadilla with warm caramel and cinnamon ice cream. There are some kids’ menu items and on weekends a “funky” breakfast served from 8 to 11:30 a.m. The spicy pork green chili with runny poached eggs might be the best hangover panacea in town. But Burks is particularly excited about his chef, Jaime Sierra. Originally from Ecuador, Sierra has recently tended the kitchens at Seven, Om and Oceanaire.
Don’t forget to stop at the bar: We’re talking fresh margaritas made with fresh Key lime juice. And of course, this being a lake town, there will be dockside delivery for boaters.
Make Your Own Street Tacos at Home
Tacos are an imprecise art, often left up to the preferences of the chef and the diner. Prepare an array of fillings and toppings, and let each diner put together their own perfect taco.
5-inch soft corn tortillas, warmed in tinfoil in 350 degree oven
Grilled skirt steak
Blackened mahi mahi
Sliced ripe avocado
Mango and pineapple salsas
Use two layered corn tortillas for each taco. Arrange the fillings and toppings in different bowls, and let each person create the street taco of their dreams. Be sure not to overfill each taco—it should be easy to eat with one hand, walking around, without making a mess.
Lago Tacos’ suggested combinations
- Beer-battered walleye, cabbage, cilantro, jicama, chipotle mayonnaise, mango salsa and queso fresco
- Sliced grilled flank steak, salsa rojo, diced onion and cilantro
- Blackened mahi mahi with Cajun seasoning and pineapple salsa
Lagos Tacos 30 Water St. Excelsior; 952.320.8495